Who Should Be Liable for the COVID-19 Outbreak?

60 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2020 Last revised: 19 Dec 2022

See all articles by Ronen Perry

Ronen Perry

University of Haifa - Faculty of Law

Date Written: September 1, 2020


The Article systematically and critically evaluates the potential liability of various “suspects” for the physical, emotional, and economic losses arising from the COVID-19 pandemic: the country-of-origin (the People’s Republic of China), international organizations (particularly the World Health Organization), federal, state, and local governments and officers, businesses, and healthcare providers. It concludes that existing legal frameworks fail to provide an appropriate solution for victims, primarily because each of the potential defendants can easily evade liability. The Article then proposes a new hybrid (international-domestic) regime, inspired by the international framework for the compensation of victims of nuclear incidents and by the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

Keywords: COVID-19, liability, negligence, causation, state liability, international organization immunity, foreign sovereign immunity, international law, tort law, law and economics, September 11th fund

JEL Classification: k00, k13

Suggested Citation

Perry, Ronen, Who Should Be Liable for the COVID-19 Outbreak? (September 1, 2020). Harvard Journal on Legislation, Vol. 58, pp. 253-312, 2021, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3697283 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3697283

Ronen Perry (Contact Author)

University of Haifa - Faculty of Law ( email )

Mount Carmel
Haifa, 3498838

HOME PAGE: http://law.haifa.ac.il/index.php/en/faculty-rperry

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